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Philippines, Urban poor threatened by evictions express solidarity with ‘familiar tale’ of Grenfell tragedy

Members of KADAMAY in San Roque held a candle lighting and offered flowers along their community to show solidarity with the Grenfell fire victims marking a week since the tragedy. KADAMAY noted the similarities between the plight experienced in West London and the state of housing in the country. They said that in both situations evicting people through privatization schemes and sub-standard public housing was at the core.

Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano, Kadamay Chairperson said “We extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families of the victims especially that of our kabayan in Ms. Ligaya Moore.”

Shed explained that “In London, many demolitions of poor communities and houses are being carried out to make way for more private and marketable units. This drive affected Glenfell by re-arranging the floor plan to build more market-rate units and thus compromising the structural integrity. Even the external material used for the building has now reported to be flammable. This is what happens when you put profit over people.”

An estimated 58 people died in the fire yet the casualty report is constantly being updated. The building itself, a public housing project is now managed by its landlord, the Kensington – Chelsea Borough, the wealthiest part of London. Through refurbishments has driven out residents and left the entirety of Grenfell with just one staircase and exit.

“Urban poor Filipinos are no stranger to these types of injustices. For nearly a decade, attempts to drive out the residents of San Roque to make way for commercial projects of the City Government, the NHA and the Ayalas have taken violent turns. Residents have been endangered by demolition teams, tear gas and even suspiciously fire which they say has taken an upturn since the Central Business District (CBD) project was being enforced,” said Arellano.

Locals believe that communities like San Roque, who are resisting demolitions, inevitably experience fires and frequent ones at that. From December 2016 to February of this year there were four fires that raged through communities collectively and frequently resisting demolition attempts on them. NIA road, Quezon City on December 28, Navotas Port Area on January 10, Catmon, Malabon and Parola, Manila on February 8. All areas are also targeted by large scale Public-Private Partnership projects, NIA Road in particular is also part of the CBD project that is affecting San Roque.

“We support the protests right now in the UK demanding for accountability and justice from Prime Minister Theresa May. Neo-liberal schemes for housing and communities are destroying the lives and livelihood of poor people everywhere. The opening up of public housing to privatization must end, it deprives the inherent right of all to mass housing,” noted Arellano.

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